Saturday, May 12, 2012

Is super authordom a good thing?

JK Rowling. Suzanne Collins. E.L James. Stephanie Meyer. Dan Brown. They're all authors who have risen to dizzying heights of super success. People will probably continue to read their books long after they die. They have crossed that thin line into artistic immortality. People will always know who these people are and what they wrote. Long after they are gone a little bit of their souls will remain in their books. A little bit of them.

They certainly have their fans, yes...but is super stardom always a good thing? Popularity seems to be a double edged sword. For every person that calls themselves a fan there are two more people laughing at you. Look at Dan Brown and Stephanie Meyer. These authors have had incredible success with their books and yet among certain circles of people they are laughed at and labeled terrible and untalented. Obviously, you can't please everyone. There seems to be an opinion among some that most of the world's successful authors have not achieved their success through talent but sheer dumb luck. People love to take swipes at Dan Brown's research or Stephanie Meyer's plotting and characters.

And that's all fair game. They're in the public eye. People are allowed to critcise them. Are these people bitter? jealous? Probably, on some level. Good luck trying to get them to admit it. None of the authors I listed up above are geniuses. I loved the Hunger Games books (the first one was brilliant!) but they were not without their flaws. I enjoyed the Twilight books but have since grown out of them. I continue to adore the Harry Potter books.

I sometimes imagine what it would be like to achieve success in gain loads of fans...and also become an object of hate and jealously. Look at E.L James the author of the Fifty Shades series. James started her series as fan fiction and after it achieved success on line she rewrote it and published it under her own name. Risky, yes. Frankly, I'm surprised that her publisher took such a huge, huge, risk like that. Now James is going to have to live with the stigma of being a fan fiction author for the rest of her life. In the eyes of many she is a lazy fraud who could not be bothered to invent her own characters or story. She just plucked them out of another, redressed them, gave them new names and there you have it...the world's current best selling erotic trilogy!

Anything she writes in the future will be judged for any signs of plagiarism. James has herself to blame for that. She could have written an original erotic novel. But instead she made the foolish and risky decision to publish fan fiction. Now she is sitting on top of the world and many believe she does not deserve to be there.

Is success worth it if it means becoming a laughingstock?

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